A flock of captive bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) experienced loose droppings, depression, and increased mortality starting at 3 wk of age. Necropsy of the affected birds revealed intestines dilated with frothy and tan fluid. Irregular dark brown fissures within the koilin layer of the gizzard were found in 20%-30% of the birds. Histologically, gizzards showed multifocal koilin degeneration or fragmentation, degeneration and necrosis of the subjacent epithelial cells, and infiltration of macrophages, lymphocytes, and heterophils. Necrotic epithelial cells occasionally contained large, smudgy, basophilic intranuclear inclusion bodies with marginated nuclear chromatin. Adenoviral paracrystalline arrays composed of icosahedral virions (60-70 nm diameter) were seen on transmission electron microscopy in the nuclei of epithelial cells in the gizzard mucosa. Adenovirus was isolated from gizzard, liver, intestine, and trachea by inoculation of specific-pathogen-free embryonated chicken eggs. Homogenates of the gizzard, liver, and intestine were positive for the adenovirus hexon gene by PCR. Sequencing of PCR amplicons confirmed the virus as fowl aviadenovirus A. The study isolates showed more than 99% and 97% nucleotide identity with quail bronchitis virus and with aviadenoviruses from gizzard erosion and ulceration (GEU) in broilers, respectively. The viral isolates showed six substitutions (G1T, C174A, A229G, C513A, T579A, and G621C) of which two were nonsynonymous (G1T and A229G), resulting in a change in the translated amino acid as A1S and S77G, respectively. These results indicate that adenoviruses of the same type or species can cause different clinical presentations in quails, e.g., bronchitis or GEU.
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- hexon gene